Archive for the ‘games’ Category

Wild about Parks Quest

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

My grandchildren love scavenger hunts and treasure hunts.  We always have one as part of Grandma Camp when they visit me.

This summer we used our detective skills in a program offered by the Urbana, IL Park District –  Parks Quest.

Wild About Parks Quest is a letterboxing event that celebrates the Urbana Park District’s many parks and facilities.  Letterboxing can be compared with a treasure hunt – where the treasure is a hidden box and the map is a set of clues used to find the box.

To learn more about this intriguing pastime, letterboxing, you can check out this website: You can click on the map to find letterboxes that are hidden in your city.

Back to Parks Quest.  To become a quester you need a clue booklet.  These can be picked up at the Urbana Park District office or can be downloaded from their website.  You use this clue booklet to find each letterbox.

For example, at one park  you are told to follow the path into the Gazebo and take a seat on one of the benches.  You then read about the large oak tree nearby with a plaque telling how old the tree is.  Reading on, you are asked to look for one tree that is not like the rest.  This tree has blue leaves or needles.  Search below the needles on the south side of the tree and there is the park’s letter box.

My granddaughter agreed to be the one to shimmy under the big blue spruce.

Out she came with the letter box in her hand.

My grandchildren opened the letterbox and took out the stamp.  They inked it up and stamped their Quest Clue Book to show they had found the treasure.  Then they signed the notebook with our names and the date to show when we found the letter box.  Finally it is really important to put the letterbox back where you found it so it will be ready for the next quester to find.  Yes, my granddaughter had to shimmy back under the blue spruce.

“Let’s go to another park, Grandma.”  SO we did.

In some of the parks the letterbox was hidden in a hollow of a tree.  My grandson considered for some time if he wanted to plunge his hand in for the letter box.  He was wondering what besides the letterbox might be in that hole.  We found no wild critters.

Off to another park and then another.

Time out.  It was hot and we were tired and needed a break.

No better way to cool off than with a yummy dip (or two) of ice cream.  As we sat eating, we looked at the booklet planning our next park.  Guess what – there was one right across the street from the ice cream shop.  When we finished, we headed over to look for another letterbox.

The most difficult quest required us to walk on a trail through a park with many gardens.  In each garden we were instructed to find a letter.  The letter was put into numbered blanks in our book.  When completed we would have the title of a sculpture in the park.  The letterbox was behind that sculpture under a flat rock in the brush.

My granddaughter was filling in the blanks so we could find that elusive letterbox.

We explored eight parks and have eight stamps in our Park Quest book.  However, the children were a little unhappy.  The car was packed and it was time for them to head home.  I promised that when they come for another visit, we’ll explore more parks.  I did add that it might be cold weather when they return.  ”We’ll bring boots and gloves and warm jackets, Grandma.  Can we do it?  Can we do it?”

I called the Park District and verified that the letterboxes are left out all year around so yes, we can go out even in the snow – and that might be really fun – to look for the treasures.  I was also told that the Park District sends someone out every few weeks to check on the letterboxes so there will be no missing boxes.

When Daddy asked the children if they had fun doing Parks Quest, I saw two smiles and two thumbs up.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week a recipe for some yummy cookies that have chunks of peanut butter cups in them.  Hope you stop by to visit again.


Time for Grandma Camp

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

It has been a very hot and dry summer, but there has been fun.  My grandchildren from near and those from far have all stopped by for some Grandma Camp action.

When we have Grandma Camp, we always start the day by going to the public library – sometimes by car and sometimes by mass transit.  This time we visited a library, but it was not the large brick and mortar one.  This was a neighborhood “little library.”

Are you familiar with the little free library movement?

Their mission is to promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.  To build a sense of community as people share skills, creativity and wisdom across the generations.  To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world.

They offer kits and building plans so folks can set up their own free little library.

The little library a few block from my home is not housed in one of these designed little structures.  It is the Free Mini Library, housed in an insulated cooler.  It rests next to the street in front of a home.  There are two little tree stumps for browsers to sit upon as they look at the books.  There are books for adults and for children.  The premise is – leave a book; take a book.

I have picked up a mystery story for myself and I have taken my grandchildren to pick out books to read at my house.  Of course, we leave a book for each book we take.


What a great idea.  After seeing the library, one of my sons plans to set up a library in his front yard for the neighborhood to use.

A walk on a sunny summer day means that you are hot and sweaty when you return.  We had the perfect remedy for this.  We made strawberry popsicles before we left and enjoyed one when we returned.  These are so fresh and tasty that I’ll probably make them even when the children are not visiting.

I altered a bit a recipe that I found on the internet to make this fruity treat.

1 cup of cut up strawberries

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons sugar or less if the strawberries are really sweet

a couple of squeezes of lime juice.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds and put into the freezer.

An enjoyable treat for all ages.

One of my grandsons usually has a “bucket list” when he comes for Grandma Camp.  Sometimes it is “things Grandma never let’s us do” or “can we do this again this year.”  Can we paint the driveway? We have done it before, but he and his sister wanted to do it again so we did.  On the day of camp it was extremely warm and the driveway was in the blazing sun so I suggested they paint the front porch.

The children donned their hand-me-down black tee shirts from a grandpa to keep the “paint” off their clothes and they divided the front porch into – my space and your space.  A yellow chalk line was drawn down the middle of the porch.  We mixed up 4 bowls of “paint.”

The recipe for driveway paint is simple:  1/3 cup of cornstarch, 1/3  cup of water, and food coloring.  Stir the mixture until it is smooth.

Armed with a handful of sponge paint brushes, the painters set off to work on their creations.  My grandson who is a devotee of Star Wars decided that he would paint a solar system.  He added some space ships shooting at the invaders.

My granddaughter’s painting showed her on a giraffe, her favorite animal.  She also included one of her brother with a tiger, his favorite, and of course, there was one of me with a cat.

A rain shower, yes, unbelievable during this drought, but a rain shower washed away the collection of animals.  The space craft are still battling on my front porch.

More tales of Grandma Camp to come next week – a lemonade stand and Park Quest.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope you return next week to read other adventures we had in Grandma Camp.



Let’s Go Outside to Play

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

When my grandchildren come to visit during the summer, it is always fun to go outside to play.  Those indoor toys and games will still be there on rainy days or when the snow is falling.

When the cousins have a play date at my house during the summer, we frequently walk over to the nearby school to play.  Sometimes we play hide and go seek in my yard.

I decided that this year we needed some new games to play in the yard so I headed off to the library for help.  I came home with two books that gave me several suggestions that I think will be lots of fun.


Tag, Toss and Run is a recently published book of lawn games.  It was written by Paul Tukey and Victoria Rowell.

The cover states that there are 40 classic lawn games – with variations.

I think that Crab Soccer looks like fun.  The basic idea is to score goals while moving like a crab.  It is for ages 5 and up and at least three players are required.  (I find that the information about Ages and Players is very helpful in weeding out games that won’t work for my group.)  The players scuttle around on feet and hands with bellies up, in a “crab walk” fashion.  I think if I tried this position, a call to 911 would be required.  The participants cannot touch the ball with their hands, except for the goalie.  A large ball, the bigger the better, is kicked toward the goal.

Wheelbarrow Races – I had forgotten all about trying these back when I was young.  Ages 4 and up.  Players 4 and more.   The person being the wheelbarrow walks on his hands while a partner holds his or her legs.  It is a race to the finish line.

Another book I found at the library is Mom’s Handy Book of Backyard Games by Pete Cava.  The book was published in 2000, but these 101 games don’t go out of style.

Multiple indices are an interesting feature of this book.  One index lists the games by age level.  Another lists games that require no special equipment.  The final index lists games requiring equipment by the equipment required.  These allow you to navigate the book more quickly.

Sardines is a game I know we will try.  It is for ages 5 and up.  This is Hide and Seek in reverse.  One person is It.  The other players count to 20 while IT finds a  place and hides.  When a player find It, he doesn’t say anything, but hides with It.  The rest of the players do likewise until the hiding place becomes packed – like a can of sardines.  The game continues until the last player finds the hiding place.

Marbles Baseball for ages 7 and up.  Two players are required.  The game requires a flat surface like a driveway or sidewalk.  The players  mark off a large square and then a smaller square in each corner.  The square in the lower left-hand and right-hand corners are marked “single.”  The upper right-hand corner is marked “double” and the upper left-hand corner is marked “triple.”  A circle between the two upper squares is marked “home run.”

Players take turns “batting.”  Kneeling about 3 feet from the playing surface, the batter rolls a marble or a small ball onto one of the squares or the circle.  Anything that lands outside the square or circle is an out.  Whoever scores the most runs is the winner.

Walk the Plank is for ages 3 and up.  Two players are  required.  The equipment needed is a rope or tape and children’s binoculars.  To play,  the players lay the 20-foot rope or tape in a straight line.  One at a time, the players take the binoculars and, looking through them the wrong way, try to walk the length of the rope.

Someone trying to walk while gauging distance through the wrong end of binoculars can be a hilarious spectacle for other players.

There are many other games in these books that might be just right for your grandchildren to play.

I’m all set for the upcoming play date with these and other games tucked in the pages of these helpful books.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Soon it will be time to celebrate the birthday of the United States.  I have some 4th of July postcards that will be traveling to my grandchildren’s mailboxes.  I hope you stop back to look at the postcards.




Christmas Potpourri

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Today I am writing about holiday potpourri or ”this and that” – not about the dried fragrant plant materials placed in bowls to evoke memories of Christmas or summer time.

Gifts – Years ago when the daddies were little, we made gifts for them to give to their grandmother for Christmas.  One year I decided that pomander balls would be a fantastic idea.  I gathered  two large oranges, a jar of whole cloves, some net fabric, and a poultry skewer.  The idea was that the boys and I would sit around the dining room table listening to Christmas carols and work on Grandma’s gift.  I planned that we would poke holes in the oranges with the skewer and then insert the cloves into the orange, covering the orange with the cloves.  Had I ever done it before?  No.  Did I ever do it again?  NO

The problems that arose – the boys poked themselves from time to time with the skewer and  juice (luckily no blood) was running all over their hands and arms and shirts.  The cloves sometimes broke when they were inserting them.  And finally the surface of an orange will accommodate more cloves than two small boys have the interest or attention span to insert.

When I saw that we had reached the point of dimishing returns, I told them they could go play.  I finished the pomanders and wrapped them in net and put them to age in a box for a couple of weeks.  At Christmas with big smiles they happily presented to their grandma the pomander balls THEY had made for her.  She was delighted.  (We grandmothers are pushovers, of course.)

The next year I decided the gift for Grandma would be something that took less time so it truly could be done by the boys.  I bought some sheets of thin cork.  On one side of the cork we glued a square of green felt the same size as the cork square.  When that dried, around the edge of the cork square the boys glued unpopped pop corn kernels and split peas.  After they had finished and the glue was dry, I brushed a sealant over the corn and peas.  Voila.  Coasters for Grandma.  She loved them, and they were on the coffee table at her home for several years.

Last year I decided to help my grandchildren who live 3 hours away make some coasters.  Unfortunately I could not find sheets of thin cork.  I had to buy a roll of cork.  What a pain.  I cut the squares of cork before I went to visit.  Since they came from a roll, they curled up.  For a week I had them weighted down with the dictionary, the atlas, a copy of Plutarch’s Lives, and The Oxford Latin Dictionary – any heavy book I could find.  That flattened them out.  Lately now that I don’t need it I have again seen sheets of cork in craft stores.  My advice if you want to make these – use the sheets.

Happily now one can purchase sheets of felt with adhesive backing.  These were easily cut and attached to the cork by my grandchildren.  For decoration they used stick-on jewels around the edges.  They looked really nice and were received with smiles and hugs.

One other gift that my grandchildren and I put together were refrigerator magnets.  I bought a roll of  adhesive magnetic sheeting.  We cut out photos of the children that were taken during the year and put them on the adhesive.  Presto, personalized refrigerator magnets.

Planting paperwhites – For the past four years my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away and I have planted paperwhites – usually about the second week in December – in a holiday bowl.  Then we place the bowl in a light, bright plant stand and the children watch the sprouts emerge and grow and bloom.  Typically the flowers open early in January.  This is a happy surprise to look forward to after the Christmas tree and decorations have been taken down.

Christmas Music – My grandchildren have a holiday CD that they love – especially the boys.  It is Christmas Rocks by The Brian Setzer Orchestra.  When they visit my house, they want to have it on while they play; when we drive somewhere, they ask me to put it in the CD player in the car.  The boys always request track 17  – Santa Drives a Hot Rod. It is a lively and funny tune.  They also know that Grandma’s favorite track is 2 – Gettin’ In the Mood (for Christmas).  This is an upbeat version of the big band tune In the Mood.  When they play that track, I dance in the living room, and everyone laughs at the dancing Grandma.

Christmas DVD – A fantastic DVD came out this year – Merry Madagascar.  Remember those animals that left Central Park and ended up in Madagascar with no way to return to NYC?  Their story was in the movies Madagascar, Madagascar 2, and in the summer of 2012 Madagascar 3. In this Christmas DVD Santa Claus crashes in Madagascar and has amnesia.  The animals with a sleigh pulled by penguins deliver the toys for Santa while he is recovering.  As the video draws to an end, the sleigh only has enough fuel to (a) take toys to the last group of children or (b) take the animals back to Central Park in NYC.  Decisions, decisions.  Yes, they made the right one.

I watched this video 3 times last weekend with my grandchildren and if I hadn’t returned it to the library, I would probably watch it again at home.  It is really funny and really enjoyable.

Christmas Fun and Games Newsletter – Check out this website:

This newsletter offers games, board games, word puzzles, mazes, coloring sheets, and more to entertain children. There are free games plus on-line books you can purchase.  I often print out some of the games or mazes and stick them in my purse.  Then when I go to a restaurant with my grandchildren, I pull them out and we play with these until meals are served.

Next week I’ll show  you some ornaments on my Christmas tree and share with you some holiday recipes.

Thank you for spending a few minutes at Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope that you stop by again.




Over the river – Road Trip

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Recently I went over the river on a road trip to visit my grandchildren who live three hours away.  My day of arrival was a beautiful, warm fall day so we headed to the park for Nature Camp.

“I Love Dirt” is a great book by Jennifer Ward.  I found it in our public library.  The book lists projects and activities that children or families can make and do in each season of the year.  I used activities from the Autumn section of the book.  Some I adapted, and others I used as they were presented.  Just see what we did.

I gave my grandson and granddaughter clipboards and pencils, and we set to work.

Animal Search – I made a checklist of animals we would look for in the park.  We found 5 out of 6 on the list – spider, ant, roly-poly, butterfly, bird, and cricket.  Can you guess what we couldn’t find?  A roly-poly.  We just couldn’t  find a damp area or a rock to turn over to reveal a roly-poly.

My grandson is working on his checklist.

Can you …

Also on the list were twinkle like a star, stomp like a bear, pull a worm from the ground like a robin, blow like a gentle breeze, and watch like an owl in a tree.

Here is my granddaughter hopping like a rabbit.

What can you find? On the walk to the park my grandson and granddaughter each picked up 4 gum balls that had fallen from sweet gum trees along the sidewalk.   I put the gum balls down to indicate the corners of a rectangle that was basically 18 X 24 inches. Each child had a rectangle to explore.  I told them to get down on their hands and knees and look to see what they could find in those grassy areas.  They each wrote their “finds” down.

My 6 year old grandson found clover, clover flowers, grass, dirt, roots, and a dead moth.  Then he smiled at me and asked me to stand in the middle of his rectangle.  I did and he wrote down on his list – Grandma.  Pretty cute!

My 9 year old granddaughter found an ant, leaves, clover, grass, wood chips, roots, dead grass, muddy leaves, and a little boy.  Little boy?  Yes, there was a toddler playing in the park.  He was attracted to my grandchildren down on the ground so he ran over to where they were.  He stopped right in the middle of my granddaughter’s search rectangle so she claimed him as being in her space.

Leaf Races  My grandchildren each selected some leaves for leaf races. They put their clipboards down on the sidewalk as the goal line.  Then they got down on their hands and knees and blew their leaves down toward the goal line.  Big problem of the day.  It was a windy day so the leaves went wherever they were blown by the wind, not by the children. They had fun trying and trying to get their leaves to the goal line.

Then we sat down in the sunshine and talked about birds.  Why are male cardinals red, but female cardinals are brown?  (The brown bird on a nest can be hidden by its coloring from predators who might try to take the eggs from the nest.)  What makes a bird, a bird?

My grandchildren were able to name several of the items on the list: feathers, wings, two legs, beaks, warm blooded AND my granddaughter even knew that birds have hollow bones.

We decided to head back home.  On the way my grandson and granddaughter picked up leaves and sticks and flowers to use for our next project.  Leaf People  When we were home and had fortified ourselves with a candy corn cookie, they brought out their craft supplies and made such creative people and even a butterfly.

My grandson made a leaf person with a leaf, gum ball head, stem extremeties, and yarn hair and features.

Notice that my grandson used tiny flowers for the hands on this leaf person. The head is a leaf and the features are tiny pieces of a darker leaf that he taped to the face.

My granddaughter made a leaf girl complete with a clover necklace.

And just look at this neat butterfly that my granddaughter made.

After projects were finished, I was ready to put my feet up, but my grandchildren were ready to go to the school yard to play soccer.  Guess who tripped on the soccer ball while trying to stop it and fell down?  Yes, me.  When we got home, my grandson gave me a band-aid to cover my scraped and bruised knee.  He said that I had to use a plain one because the Sponge Bob box was empty.

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  My grandson who lives 20 minutes away will soon be having a birthday.  Next week I’ll share with you the cakes that I have made for him for his first five birthdays.  I hope you stop back again.

How many?

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

In 2010 when the national census was being conducted I talked to my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away about it when I was at their house.  We had been working on numbers in Grandma School so I thought this might be a teaching moment.

I explained that U.S. Census Bureau wanted to count everyone who lived in the United States.  Their eyes got very big.  Everyone?  Every town?  What about Australia?  This is when the Wiggles were still a real favorite of my grandson.  I told him that the people in Australia would not be included in the census.

How can they count everyone, Grandma?  I explained that a paper was being mailed to every house and apartment to ask how many people lived there. 

What about pets, Grandma?  No, no pets were included.

They then said that the answer for their house was 4.  And the answer for my house would be one since my cats couldn’t be included.

I suggested that we could do a census of “things” in their house.  I asked what they would like to count.  My granddaughter collects stuffed giraffes.  She that they should be counted for their household  census.  Well, of course, my grandson wanted to count his Thomas the Tank Engines.

We came up with a list of items to count:  giraffes, American Girl dolls, Thomas the Tank engines, and teddy bears.  There was a pause so I got us on to a different track – windows.  Then we came up with a list of household items to count:  beds, fans, rooms, bathrooms, TVs, chairs.  There was some discussion as to whether a sofa could be chair.  And should a sofa count as more than one chair since more than one person can sit on it?  Simple tasks can become involved, but that did show that the children had their thinking caps on.

Then off they ran around the house counting and bringing me back totals.  There were a couple of disputes about totals so we all together counted those items.  Must have an accurate household census, right? 

Whew!  When we were finished, we sat down to look at the list and the totals.  We needed a snack after all that running around.

When their mommy came home at the end of the day, she was met with, “Mom, do you know how many windows are in the house?” 

Thanks for stopping by to visit Grandma in the Mailbox.  I am making candy corn cookies for my grandchildren since Halloween is approaching.  Please stop back to see how I made them and to get the recipe.

Sleepover Grandma Camp

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Summer is winding down.  Time for school to begin.  It is also time for the last Grandma Camp of the summer.  My grandchildren who live 20 minutes away asked if the last camp could be a sleepover camp.

Certainly.  No problem.

We started camp as usual with a trip to the library.  But this trip was, as requested, on the city bus.  Luckily the bus line that serves the library runs about a half a block from my house.  The  purpose of our trip to the library was to pick up the movie that we were going to watch during the evening – “Ice Age.”

Since we had some time to wait for the return bus to pick us up, we walked to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone.  Oh, my, the choices – so many.  After some study of the flavors and some questions, both my grandson and granddaughter settled upon chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream in cones.

They had requested another science experiment at camp.  This time we were going to build volcanoes and have them erupt.

Wearing their “work shirt” hand-me-downs from Grandpa, they built volcanoes of damp white sand.  The volcanoes were landscaped with sticks and flowers.  Then we set the volcanoes in the garage to harden overnight.

The next morning we worked on “loading” the volcanoes.  There were plastic cups in the center of the volcanoes.  First, we put in some warm water, then a couple of drops of dish detergent, a few drops of food coloring and a tablespoon of baking soda.  The children gently stirred the crater.  Then they added 1/3 cup of vinegar.  And voila!  Eruption fun.

My grandson had wanted orange lava; my granddaughter, purple.  Since we were using liquid food coloring, the colors didn’t turn out exactly as they thought they would, but it was exciting.

It was so much fun that they wanted to do it again.  After our lava had settled down, we put all the ingredients back into the volcano and had another eruption.

There are many websites on the internet that offer instructions on building soda/vinegar volcanoes.  I used the instructions from:  You can find instructions by searching on clay volcano.

We ended the day by eating pizza and watching the movie “Ice Age.”  I had seen it with my grandchildren who live 3 hours away and really liked it.  These grandchildren enjoyed the adventures of the  wooly mammoth and the sloth.  When it was over, my grandson said, “Grandma, do you know what my new favorite movie is?”  It had been Cars 2.  I told him that I didn’t have a clue.  He yelled, “Ice Age.”  And then he quickly followed up by asking, “When can we watch “Ice Age 2?”

The next morning bright and early we headed to the doughnut shop to pick our breakfast treats.

Decisions, decisions.  With our donuts we settled down at the table in the sunporch to enjoy our treats.  I read “Arnie the Doughnut” to them while they ate and I tried to get a bite in between pages.

I wrote about “Arnie” by Lauie Keller in my last blog entry.

Of course, we can’t have a Grandma Camp without a treasure hunt.  The team, and I stress they are a team and not competitors, ran from the sunporch to the playroom to the clue hidden outside before finding the treasure hidden in the tub of Barbie clothes.

A clue by the bird bath.

It was time to head to the park to play and to have lunch.  We went to a park that is located near the elementary school that the children’s daddy and uncle attended.  Of course, we had to drive by the “old” house where daddy grew up, and I showed them his bedroom window and their uncle’s bedroom window.

At the park I was drafted into their Navy.  We had two ships that traveled the seas – rather rapidly.  It took but a short time to sail from Florida to Australia and then back to Michigan.  Michigan?  Well, they were in charge.

After our lunch of pbj sandwiches and fruit, we headed back to my house to play until Mommy and Daddy came to pick them up.

No better way to spend the last minutes of Grandma Camp than to get out the PlayMobile people and the Hot Wheel cars and settle down on the playroom rug.

Grandma Camp was really fun this summer especially since we added the new features like science experiments and treasure hunts.  I am putting together a photo album for the children of our activities this summer.

When the children heard their parents coming in the house, my grandson asked, “Grandma, can we have camp during Christmas vacation?”

Thanks for stopping by.  I have mentioned the great finds that are in the playroom.  Well, I also bought some “oops” that never made it to the playroom.  I’ll tell you about these soon.

Time Capsule

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Last summer when all my grandchildren were at my house for a cousin play date, during snack time I asked if they knew what a time capsule was.  The two granddaughters did since new buildings had been constructed in their home towns, and time capsules were buried on those occasions.  I explained to the boys what a time capsule was.

Then I suggested that we make a time capsule.   They could each contribute a drawing or a book and some information about themselves.  My plan was for us to dig up the capsule each summer at a play date so we could add new items and could see what changes had taken place since the last summer play date.

I made a questionnaire for each child to complete.  It asked for their favorites – color, food, animal, movie, book, subject in school.  I asked what they want to be when they grow up, what they wanted for their birthday, and what they wished their name was.  The girls were able to complete this alone.  I helped the grandsons who were 4 at the time.  It was fun and interesting to hear and read the answers – especially what they wished their name was.

I asked each grandchild to draw a picture or write a little book to include in the time capsule.  We didn’t do it that day because this was a play date so they wanted to play.  Within a few weeks I had a contribution from each grandchild for the time capsule.

Originally I had planned to actually bury our time capsule, but finding an appropriate water proof container and finding a space in my garden were not easy problems to solve.  Instead I put everything into an accordian file folder and took it to the basement.  I don’t know about your basement, but taking something to my basement can be equal to “burying” it.

A few weeks ago again all the grandchildren were at my house for a summer cousin play date.  I brought out the time capsule.  I gave each child the same questionnaire they had completed the previous year. 

After they completed the questions, I passed out what they had said the previous year.  They were amazed.  There was much laughing and comments like “why did I say that?” and “weird.”

A grandson who last year wanted to be a Hiawatha driver (a particular type of train engine) now wants to be a tee ball instructor.  A granddaughter last year wanted to be a school teacher; now a farmer with a goat.  Last year a granddaughter wished her name were Zinnia; this year, Lauren.  The grandson who chose Batman as his favorite name last year chose Nick this year.

Each child will soon give me a picture or a story to include in the time capsule.

Later in the day when I saw the parents, I showed them the last year and this year answers for their children.  I wonder how they will change next summer.  So much fun.

I have mentioned that when the grandchildren get together, they get out the box of Melissa and Doug musical instruments and parade through my house as a band.  One of my grandsons suggested that we should name the band “The Time Capsule.”

Presenting “The Time Capsule” in a recent concert in grandma’s living room.

Thanks for stopping by.  It doesn’t seem possible, but soon school will be starting.  It will be time to send back-to-school postcards to the mailboxes of my grandchildren.  Off I go to search for riddles.

Take me out to the ball game

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

I am an ardent baseball fan even though my team has not won the World Series since 1908.  Yes, I am a Chicago Cub fan.

Recently when the grandchildren who live 20 minutes away were at my house,  they dressed the cat (not the real one) in Chicago Cub attire and added various bits of Cub memorabilia to the scene.  Being an eternal optimist, I made a W flag (for victory) for them to add.  If you look carefully, you will see a package of 1989 Topps baseball cards – unopened.

When my two grandsons were born, I bought each 20 packages of baseball  cards from 1988,  1989, and 1990.  I suggested that they keep them unopened until they were 10 years old.  (That will be 2015.)  Then they can open them to see if they have any valuable rookie cards.  Of course, the message was meant for the parents since newborns and infants and baseball cards don’t mix.  I did add the caveat that they shouldn’t chew the bubble gum enclosed in the packages.

When I asked my grandchildren if they could bring in some Cub items for our display,  my grandson brought in a number of his unopened baseball cards.

Yes, I know baseball cards.  The daddies were collectors, and I am still the custodian for 4 very large boxes of cards from their 70′s collections.

Back to “Take me out to the ball game.”   I am going to a Chicago Cub game with each family – two different days/two different games. 

This will be the first Cub game for each of the 5 year old grandsons so we will use the 5 inning rule and plan to stay for at least 5 innings.  Then based upon the score, the weather, and the interest of the children, we’ll decide if we stay longer.

We took my 8 year old granddaughter to her first Cub game when she was 9 months old.  She brought the Cubs luck, and we defeated the Cardinals that day. 

We took my 7 year old granddaughter to Wrigley Field when she was 3 months old.  We sat and sat  and sat watching the rain fall upon the tarp that covered the field.  After sitting for an hour and 45 minutes, we decided we would leave.  As we walked down the street to the car, we heard a cheer go up from the crowd.  The tarp was coming off the field.  We listened to the game in the car on the way home.  Cubs won.

It is a 3 hour ride in the car to the ball park.  I wanted to find something to help the time to pass for the children.  Doing some internet research, I came upon  Everything Baseball is a great site for sports fans.  They offer “The Chicago Cubs Coloring and Fun Book.” 

This is a 46 page book of connect the dots, coloring pages, mazes, secret message codes, word scrambles, word searches, and a hidden picture.  There is a variety of activities to keep small travelers busy and to help the city get closer.  I bought 4 of these so each grandchild will have a book to work on in the car on our way to the Friendly Confines.

My grandchildren who live 3 hours away enjoy finding license plates from various states when they are in the car with their daddy.  I found at a license plate game.  It lists all 50 states with a check box next to each state.  I printed one of these for each child so that they can keep track of how many state license plates they see on our trip to the baseball game. 

July in Chicago can be really hot.  Luckily our seats are in the shade.  A friend suggested that I freeze bottles of water and put them in a cooler for the trip.  Then in the ball park we will each have a frozen bottle of water that will melt and help to keep us cool for about 4 innings.

Hot dogs, peanuts in the shell, singing the National Athem, home runs, foul balls – all parts of a summer holiday at the ball park.

Thanks for stopping by.  Each summer the grandchildren put something into our time capsule.  Stop by to read all about it.

Grandma Camp II

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

A few days ago my grandchildren who live 20 minutes away came in to my house for a day of Grandma Camp.  If you have heard about my grandson’s bucket list, I’ll tell you right off.  YES, we did.  We did everything that he patiently listed at the last camp citing these were things that Grandma never let’s us do. 

Played with Play Dough.  He specialized in the production of noodles of various colors.  His sister made a little girl and her dog out of Play Dough.

Played in the sandbox.

Played with water balloons.  I had filled the balloons the afternoon before camp, and I ended up really wet with balloons that broke or spurted off the hose attachment.  It was a hot day so that felt good.

Last item on his list – the game with a 1000 pieces.  Not really.  It is a construction set of gears called Goofy Grins and the box says that it has 118 pieces.  That is more than enough on the playroom floor.  The three of us sat down on the rug and put together a series of gears and got them all running.  Then comes the pick up/clean up.

We did so many more activities.  It was a very busy day.

We stopped at the library and picked up a book to read during snacks and a video to watch during snacks.  Unfortunately the video had problems so that was a short view.  AND we picked up a CD of Pixar songs to listen to in the car and while we were doing camp activities.

With the picnic lunch I had packed, we headed to a neighborhood park where the children enjoyed running, playing, and climbing on the playground equipment.  Then we settled down at a table for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit kabobs before heading back to my house.

The children like to put together ingredients for a snack mix. They call it Mix.  We mix it together and use it for a snack.  A bonus for them is that a container of Mix goes home with them.

The ingredients vary each time we make Mix.  The children enjoy measuring and dumping everything into a big mixing bowl.  We used 2 1/2 cups of Cheerios, 1 cup of chocolate Goldfish, 1 cup of pretzels the children broke into smaller pieces, 1 cup of peanut butter/milk chocolate chips, 1 cup of lightly salted dry roasted peanuts.  The children took turns mixing.  I asked my grandson how old he is.  He said 5.   I told him to stir 5 times.  My 7 year old granddaughter asked if she should then stir 7 times.  Right.  Then we sampled.  I asked for suggestions from the chefs.  We put in a couple more Goldfish and a few more peanuts, and it was completed and ready for snack time.

Something new at camp was a science experiment.  I found this at a website just full of ideas for activities with children:

Will it float or sink?  First, I asked the children if they knew what float means.  They had just finished a week of swimming lessons so that was easy.  Then we looked at the 12 items on the list.  Taking turns (so many fewer arguments that way) I asked before we ran the experiment, if they thought the items would float or sink  A comb, a rock, a leaf etc. – you can see the list.  It was rather interesting.  My granddaughter picked up the small sea shell.  She said that sea shells are found under the water in the sand so they do not float.  She also pointed out that anything with air inside will float -like the plastic Easter egg.

We ran the experiment in the kitchen sink full of water.

Good work.  The children had guessed correctly float or sink on all but one item.  That was a small rubber ball that did float.  As they were drying their hands, they asked if we can have another science experiment at the next Grandma Camp.

We heard a knock at the door.  It was a grandma and grandpa coming to see if they could check books out of Grandma’s Library.  The children were so happy to see patrons coming in.  They had processed some new books for the library earlier in the afternoon.

Grandma and Grandpa each checked out two books and were given bookmarks made by one of the librarians.

After the library patrons departed, we decided it was time to rest a bit and sample the Mix.  I read the children the book we had checked out of the library “The Night Before Summer Camp” by Natasha Wing. 

This had been such a busy day. It fairly flew by.  We did fit in another treasure hunt with 6 clues sending them to various rooms in my house and out in the garden before they discovered their hidden treasures which were small notebooks and pens.  (I love those $1 bins at Michaels and at Target.  You can find inexpensive treats for the grandchildren there.)

We had a few minutes for free time before Mommy came for pick up so we sat on the floor and played Barbies.  Even my grandson.  Ken was his doll.  As he played, he dictated a list of  “what we really need to do at the next camp, Grandma. ”  I listened; I remember; we shall do it.

Thanks for the visit.  We will be heading north to the Windy City to see a baseball game in a few days.  I love baseball so I am probably more excited than the children.